On my recent trip to Barcelona, I had my passport stolen. It’s something you never expect to happen when you’re on holiday but in a city of pick pockets, it’s unfortunately not a surprise.
At the time my large backpack (not the one in the image above, FYI) was on my boyfriends back, filled to the brim with stuff we were traveling with. When you opened the backpack, the first thing you saw tucked at the top was my make up bag. Apparently my make up bag isn’t worth stealing (thanks guys!), underneath my make up was my passport in a rather cute looking case, followed by a jumper, camera and my iPhone. Without our knowledge and in the very brief couple of minutes we stopped to check the metro signs, we were robbed. You always think you’ll feel it or know when you’re being robbed or pick pocketed but that’s not the case. Neither of us had any idea and we didn’t notice until we got down into the metro and saw that the backpack was open.
Although having your passport stolen is nothing more than an absolute pain in the arse, I’m glad they missed the money, phone and camera because imagine the extra stress…
After the anger, shock and disbelief had passed I realised I didn’t actually know what to do. I thought about ringing my mum but I decided to go with the next best thing. Google. I had to google “what to do when your passport is stole “ – I’m such a millennial (joke… kind of).
Gov.uk is the place to go. Through this website you can submit a (20 minute long) form to request emergency travel documents. My tip is to take the time to calm down before you do this because if you’re freaking out (like me) and are really worried (like me), you’ll fill the form out wrong (like me) and it’ll delay your emergency travel document.
My other tip is that if you don’t have a good quality passport looking photo on your phone – take one. Find the nearest white wall and take a new photo. Do not make do with what you have on your phone because it won’t be good enough. Trust me. The stress is real.
Once you’ve filled the form out, paid the £100 fee (could be more elsewhere I’m not sure!), it’s a waiting game. You have one number you can ring (found via the gov.co.uk website) to make sure they’ve received your application, but once they send it off to the Emergency Travel Documents Centre, you have no communication. It takes up to 2 working days to receive confirmation that your emergency travel documents are ready. The only form of communication is that email. Or, if in my case, that email telling you that you put the wrong flight information in. I told you the stress was real.
My flight was on Sunday so I literally had less than 2 working days to get this sorted and no control over how quickly it happened. The most stressful part is the lack of communication, and then the lack of promises when you get some communication. They are not allowed to tell you it’ll be ready in time, incase it’s not. This is absolutely fair but when you’re stressing about being stuck in another country, your logic doesn’t understand that. You just stress because you can’t plan ahead if worst comes to worst and you remain for an extra few days.
Thankfully, in the last time slot of the week, the British Consulate General opened up (for only 30 minutes) for the collection of the emergency travel documents. If it wasn’t ready in time, if I saw that email to late or if I couldn’t make it there in time I’d have been stuck in Spain for a couple more days. I’d have had to book different flights home and sent that information off to the consulate, extend my hotel stay or even move hotels. I checked my email like a crazy person. Every few minutes I was refreshing to see if anything had come through.
They do work 24 hours as I received one email on Thursday at 12:20am saying my photo didn’t meet the criteria. I submitted my form the day before and deep down knew the photo wasn’t good enough. My next communication was the incorrect flight info (stressed me had really fucked up the form) and then I didn’t hear anything for 24 hours. Luckily I got it all sorted and managed to make my way home with my cream and gold passport.
It was a CRAZY experience. The fact I submitted my form on Wednesday and I was still having issues with on Friday at 8am, yet managed to get home on Sunday is beyond me. Luck was on my side, kind of.
I thought I’d share with you my experience of having my passport stolen because honestly, I had no idea what to expect. Let alone any idea on what to do. Be wary when traveling, keep your passport safe. If you lose it or it’s stolen, no need to ring your mum or ask google, just head to gov.co.uk.
On a more happy note, check out my gluten free eating in Barcelona guide here.